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Musik takes championship adult gold ladies title

Many champions crowned on Friday

Championship gold ladies winner Rebecca Musik gets gifts from the sweepers.
Championship gold ladies winner Rebecca Musik gets gifts from the sweepers. (Rebecca Staed Bishop)

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By Becca Staed Bishop, special to icenetwork.com
(04/17/2010) - This year marks the first time in seven years that seven-time champions of the championship adult dance event, Mike Ricigliano and Julie Keith, are not in attendance, leaving the title up for grabs.

Making headway to claim that title are Diana-lynne Wells and Justin Ly, who won both compulsories in the championship adult dance competition Friday afternoon, kicking off the championship events at the 2010 U.S. Adult Figure Skating Championships in Bloomington, Minn.

The duo collected 13.98 points for their Kilian and 15.17 points in the Westminster Waltz for a 29.15-point compulsory mark and 1.18-point lead going into the free dance. Their waltz was the stronger of the two, having picked up 0.54 points in Grades of Execution and displayed two Level 3 steps.

In second with 27.97 points are Laura-Rose Lewis and Anthony Darnell, who finished second in the Kilian and third in the Westminster Waltz. April Chiang and Gilbert Chiang are close behind in third with 27.13 points after coming in third in the Kilian and runner-up in the Westminster Waltz.

All three couples created a nice buffer leading into the free dance as the fourth-place team sits 5.53 points behind the leading pack.

Championships Adult Gold Ladies
At the behest of her coach, Jeff Crandell, first-time adult competitor Rebecca Musik took her skating to the next level -- the 2010 U.S. Adult Figure Skating Championships -- where the 24-year-old skating coach from Bakersfield, Calif., won gold in the championship adult gold ladies event Friday night.

Musik posted a 38.17-point score for her free skate to music from Becoming Jane, in which she landed 10 clean jumps, including two doubles and two single Axels. She picked up 1.59 points in Grades of Execution and received a Level 3 for her combination spin. Her program component mark of 21.39 was also the highest by 1.36 points.

"Skating helps develop and gives you a sense of confidence in everyday life," Musik said. "Setting a goal and achieving it on time, even if it's just getting through the crappiest program in the world, that's a goal, and it feels great to accomplish it."

Musik, who began skating as a young girl, returned to the ice less than two years ago, driving five hours to train with Crandell at The Skating Club of San Francisco.

"My coach pushed me to come here," she said. "He was the whole reason I stayed in skating. I didn't really have a goal, and he dangled that carrot in front of me."

The silver medal went to Heather Hilgar, who, in her 10th year of competing at this event, posted her best finish.

"This year I worked on all the in-between stuff, the quality and spinning in the other direction," said Hilgar, 37, a first grade teacher. "I tried spinning both directions last year, but this is the closest I've come at nationals."

Skating to "Hope of Israel" by Michael W. Smith and "Christopher's Dream" by David Lance, Hilgar landed 10 singles, seven of which were in combination. Her spin sequence received a Level 3, and she picked up 0.62 points in GOEs. She finished with a 34.72 competition mark.

Last year's silver medalist, Cynthia Jacobson, came in third place, a victory not only on the ice but also off as the 46-year-old Pilates instructor has been struggling with a flare-up of lupus, a disease that she was diagnosed with 15 years ago and had been in remission from until last fall.

Fortunately, Jacobson was able to overcome her pain and relax on the ice Friday night.

"I felt like I was really able to let go," she said. "My coach, [Jessica Mellers], told me to just open up and go for it. I felt like I was able to do that."

During training she gained strength from last year's winner of this event, Cindy Crouse, 52, who had a stress fracture in her foot that hampered her training all year as well as her competitive ability.

"Cindy was one of my inspirations this year when I felt really lousy and wondered if I could pull this off," said Jacobson. "I thought, 'Well, if Cindy can do it, I can do it.' She has struggled with training and healing, and we email and talk."

Jacobson performed her free skate to music from the Mr. and Mrs. Smith soundtrack, landing 10 jumps, including a two Axels and a double Salchow in combination. She lost 0.35 points in GOEs and was downgraded on her first loop but garnered Level 2s for two of her spins. She finished with 32.34 points overall.

Emily Naperkoski finished close behind in fourth with 32.20 points after landing nine jumps, including two doubles, both of which lost points in GOEs, and two Axels. She collected the third-highest program component mark of 19.82 and garnered a Level 3 for her straight-line step sequence.

Championship Adult Gold Men
Long-time adult competitor Mark Pepin made a triumphant return to this competition after taking a year off to have knee surgery, earning the gold medal with 33.94 points for his free skate to Vanessa-Mae's "Tango de los Exilados" and "Assassin's Tango" from the Mr. and Mrs. Smith soundtrack.

The 47-year-old vice president of e-commerce is making his 14th appearance at U.S. Adult Championships but claimed his first-ever title in this event, having previously finished a best of third in 2004.

"At this point, as I am getting up there in years, the focus is about enjoying the ability to participate," Pepin said. "With that said, I still want to do all my stuff, but with bad knees and all, I am very pleased with tonight's performance."

Pepin landed nine jumps in all, including an Axel and two doubles. His spin sequence received a Level 3, and he posted the second-highest program component mark of 20.10. Nicholas Chou captured the silver medal with 33.09 points. The 35-year-old manager of a GNC also made a comeback this year after taking two years off to recover from a bulging disc in his back after a fall while practicing for Obertsdorf two years ago.

"I could've done better," said Chou, who has won this event twice since 2001. "But my goal was to get over 30 points and see my friends."

Chou, who skated to Debussy's "Clair de Lune," two-footed his Axel, which cost him 0.40 points in GOEs, but landed a double toe, double Salchow and seven more singles, all in combination.

The bronze medal went to Liam Cowper, who, coached by his wife, Linda, accrued a 32.67 free skate score for his routine to an AC/DC song played by contemporary violinist David Garrett.

"This year has been going really well," Cowper said.

"[Linda] has been pushing me really hard, and it shows because I got through the program without too many mistakes. I did everything I wanted to do, and that is the best I've felt after walking away from an event."

Cowper has been working on his spins and spiral sequences this year, tossing aside his typical step sequences, in order to gain more points.

"It's so hard to get the levels with footwork, but with the spiral sequence you can get a Level 3 without doing too much," he said.

Cowper's strategy worked, as he was only one of two skaters in the field to receive higher than a Level 1 on more than one spin, including a Level 2 for his change-foot combination spin and a Level 3 for his subsequent spin sequence. In addition, he landed 10 singles, including two Axels and seven of which were in combination.

Daniel Paepke came in fourth with 31.97 points. He also received the highest program component mark out of the top-four men with 20.58 points.

Championships Junior-Senior Men
The men delivered Friday night in the championship junior-senior category, with just 0.25 points between first and third place.

Defending champion and former Team USA member Larry Holliday, 45, captured his fifth title in this event with 49.56 points for his free skate to a Santana compilation. He fit the part, too, donning a Jimi Hendrix-esque costume, long hair and sideburns, which he's been growing out for a month.

Holliday delivered eight double jumps, leaving out his trademark triples to take it easy on his aging body.

"I felt like no one else was doing it today, and I didn't want to push my body further than I have to because I have had a little bit of a knee problem," Holliday said.

He gave a little wave at the end of his program, signaling his imminent retirement from the championship event but plans to return next year -- at least.

"The bones can't do it like that much longer," he said. "I can still do the interpretive events and dance, and I will continue doing that until I am 70 but not the masters events. It's too hard. I will be coming back next year because I want to go out with at least two triples in the program."

Holliday also displayed a Level 2 step sequence, excellent transitions and the second highest program component mark of 25.98.

Newcomer Michael Ferlic captured the silver medal in his first appearance at this event, finishing just 0.04 points behind Holliday with a 49.52 competition mark.

Ferlic, 25, is a long-time competitive skater, who started skating at age 10, making it to the U.S. Junior Figure Skating Championships in pairs, where he and his partner finished 14th. Before college Ferlic tested senior and then competed intercollegiate at the senior level.

"After college I needed a couple years off, and then I found that I was missing skating," he said. "I still kept in touch with the sport through icenetwork and various skating blogs, but I felt like it was a good time in my life to come back."

Ferlic started skating again in February of 2010.

"It was a quick turnaround to get ready," he said. "On the whole I was happy to be here and survive."

He did more than that, though, landing six double jumps, including a double Axel. Despite popping his Lutz, he earned Level 2s on his flying sit spin and straight-line step sequence, a Level 3 on his change-foot combination spin and gained 0.66 points in GOEs.

"Overall I was happy," said Ferlic, who works in finance and accounting for Progressive. "[Landing the double Lutz] is going to be a goal next time. I was just trying to take one element at a time. My biggest worry was making stamina. I think having more training next year will help that."

The bronze medal went to Davin Grindstaff, 40, the 2007 titleholder of this event, who displayed a performance he could be satisfied with after two years of disappointment. "My training this year -- off ice and on ice -- has been more regulated and building," said Grindstaff. "The last couple of years, by the time I got to nationals, I was worn out by training. I didn't feel energized by it. This year I felt like I peaked. I was excited that the training paid off."

The Georgia State University professor changed coaches this year after more than four years with Aren Nielsen.

"We just got to the end where I felt things were moving forward," he said.

Grindstaff collected 49.31 points for his free skate to Debussy's "Clair de Lune," in which he landed six double jumps -- four in combination -- and an Axel. His circular step sequence and change-foot combination spin both received Level 3s. He also earned the highest program component mark of the night with 26.42 points.

Fourth place went to 2008 titlist Joseph Radomile, who earned a 48.28 free skate score. He landed seven double jumps and three singles, two of which were Axels.